Living Below Your Means
LBYM and the Apocalypse

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By bluegazelle
October 30, 2003

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As I watch the fires in Southern California wipe out entire communities, and agonize over friends' houses in danger, I've had time to reflect on the benefits of a LBYM lifestyle when disaster strikes.

I believe our previous house is gone, though I won't know for sure until we can get up there, which may be some time. This makes these fires amazingly real to me. I suspect that our neighbors had no notice at all (one of the fires started up there during Santa Ana winds running around 60 mph). If I was left with only the clothes on my back, as some people were, I could go to my bank, get a new bank card, and there's money in my account that I could live on until the insurance checks started coming through. I have an efund.

Inspired by Tamarian's posts, I've been taking 15 minutes a day to work on my filing. I set a timer, work for 15 minutes, quit when the time is up, and reward myself. And the benefits are many, including the fact that I actually know where all of my important papers are. (I previously had a 2' deep pile of un-filed papers on top of my filing cabinet.) If I had 5 minutes to get the heck out of here, I could grab my wallet, DH, the dogs, and 3 files from the drawer, throw everything in the car, and run. And I'd have my passport, my insurance papers, and my tax records with me.

I don't owe money on my cars, so if they were burned (a situation that happened to many here), *I* (not my lender) would get a check from the insurance company. And I could use that for at least a down payment on a new car.

I've gotten organized. And as part of that, I have excellent insurance, for my home, for my rental, and for my car (not to mention life and disability). If I lost everything, I could start all over again.

LBYM has taught, and is teaching, me that material things are not important. Quality of life is important, but that's not tied up in things. If my home burned with all my belongings, it would be a massive headache. The paperwork, I'm sure, would last for months, if not years. The displacement would be wrenching. I hate to shop, and I can't imagine having to furnish a life from scratch. But there's nothing here that I can't live without, that I can't replace. It's all just stuff. It doesn't define me, it just lives with me.

I'm sure I'll think of more what-ifs in the coming days. But I'm blessed, not only to still have a home, but to know that if I didn't have a home, I would be OK.


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